Wildflowers – May

Blue

Hairy Tare

Hairy Tare

A medium scrambling annual vetch with tiny, pale to bluish lilac flowers around 4mm in size. The leaves are formed by 6-8 pairs of alternate narrow leaflets with branched tendrils and this distinguishes it from the very similar Smooth Tare. It grows in dry grassy places.

Flowering from May to August. This photograph was taken on the grassy bank beyond Grange Road on the main road between Ashton and Mouldsworth.

Green

Broad-Leaved Dock

Broad-leaved Dock

The sturdier of our two common docks with tall stems to 1m or more. It is a coarse tough plant as per the picture below but when you look closely at the flowers they show, as per the second picture below a more delicate structure. It grows in lowland grassland and disturbed ground, road verges and waste ground.

It flowers May to October This example was growing in the community pavilion field in the grassy areas behind the trees.

Lords and Ladies

Lords and Ladies

The unusual Lords-and-Ladies – known also as Cuckoo Pint – has a curious flower design in which tiny flowers are densely whorled around a cylindrical spadix which is surrounded by a leaf-like spathe with leaves that are broad and arrow shaped. It grows in damp shady places and often is found in woods and hedgerow.

It flowers from April to June and produces the familiar orange-red spike of poisonous berries from late July. This specimen was found growing at the start of Shay Lane in Ashton

Pellitory of the Wall

Pellitory of the Wall

A spreading hairy herbaceous perennial to 50cms. The flowers are tiny and green followed by red brown fruits. It likes growing on rocks, stony waste ground, and old walls or at their base.

It has had several herbal uses. The young plant can be used as a salad ingredient, but be aware that it is a very active and early source of hayfever pollens.

Flowers May to October. This example was spotted growing outside the Golden Lion and further examples can be seen on the walls down Westend.

Pineappleweed

Pineappleweed

Pineappleweed is a member of the Mayweed family but it looks radically different. While all other Mayweeds have daisy-like flowers, Pineappleweed has just the central button-like (disc florets) part and none of the white ray florets found with other family members.

This is a dark green, hairless and strongly pineapple scented low annual; and like all other Mayweeds, the leaves are pinnate with thread-like segments. Pineappleweed grows from May to November in bare, disturbed and often well-trodden places. It can be found throughout Mouldsworth and Ashton with this fine example growing on the curb in Peel Crescent.

Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle

A tall tenacious patch forming perennial to 2m. A plant to avoid handling without gloves. The flowers are tiny and greenish. It likes shady places, including woods, field edges, road verges and around buildings, wherever there is rubble or litter, favouring soil rich in nitrogen. It flowers from May to September.

It is a key food plant for the caterpillars of peacock and small tortoiseshell butterflies.

It was a valuable herb and has been used for many purposes including to provide thread for sewing, to make fine textiles as well as sail cloth and rope. Some claim it is superior to cotton for making velvet and plush. Its roots yield a yellow dye and the leaves yield a permanent green colour, used to dye woollens in Russia.

Nutritionally nettle is high in vitamins and minerals and have a long history as an animal feed additive and as a culinary plant, being used in the spring for salads, soups and as a spinach like vegetable. It has also been used to make nettle beer.

Stinging nettle has several medicinal properties as it is claimed to be astringent, anti-asthmatic and diuretic and suitable for a range of purposes. The below example was seen under the hedge on the pavilion playing field.

Pink

Common Bistort

Common Bistort

This plant is a medium unbranched perennial often growing in conspicuous patches. The pink flowers are in compact spikes with narrowly triangular leaves on long winged stalks. Bistort grows in damp grassland, open woods often near water.

In the north of England it was known as ‘Pudding Dock’ (or sometimes ‘Passion Dock’) because it was commonly used to create a traditional pudding around Eastertime, probably originating as a cleansing, bitter dish for Lent.

It flowers May to August. This example was growing in the verge of Old Lane, Mouldsworth.

Common Storks-bill

Common Storks-bill

Common Stork’s-bill is hairy plant of dry grasslands, and bare and sandy areas, both inland and around the coast. The flowers are pink and are 10-18mm in diameter. The seed pods are shaped like a crane’s bill (hence the name) and explode when ripe, sending the seeds, with their feathery ‘parachutes’, flying.

The entire plant is edible with a flavour similar to sharp parsley. The pink flowers are a valuable source of honey (nectar), and also furnish much pollen, Among the Zuni people, a poultice of chewed root is applied to sores and rashes and an infusion of the root is taken for stomach ache.

Its bright pink flowers appear in May and last through the summer until August. Found in a field at Spy Hill.

Common Vetch

Common Vetch

This is a very variable sprawling and scrambling annual. The flowers are purple, solitary or in pairs. The leaves have 3 to 8 pairs of leaflets with branched tendrils. The vetches differ from the pea family by having smooth unkeeled stems. It is also known as the garden vetch, tare or simply vetch and is a nitrogen-fixing leguminous plant.

It flowers May to September. This plant was seen growing in the hedgerow in Grange Road.

Cut-Leaved Cranesbill

Cut-Leaved Cranesbill

A short / medium erect to sprawling annual to 60cm. Flowers pink-purple, well notched sepals ending in a bristle. The leaves are cut nearly to the base. A plant of cultivated, waste and grassy places with bare patches.

Flowers May to September This was a low spreading plant growing by a footpath alongside a field of maize at Peel Hall.

French Cranesbill

French Cranesbill

This attractive plant is one of the large cranesbill family. It has pretty pinkish, five-petalled blooms with maroon veins which are formed like shallow cups. The leaves are large and deeply serrated.

The fruits resemble long beaks after which the Cranesbills are named. Grows to 60 cms in height. Flowers May to September. They are often found as an escape from cultivation and tend to become established on roadside verges.

Medicinally, when the leaves are made into an infusion the resulting tea can be used as a mouthwash to relieve mouth sores and bleeding gums and to stem nosebleeds. The flower pictured was found near the hedgerow along Manley Lane to the north-west of Mouldsworth and close to the old post office/shop.

Hedgerow Cranesbill

Hedgerow Cranesbill

One of the muskily aromatic cranesbills this is a medium downy perennial that grows to 60 cms. Its flowers (14-18mm) are a pink-purple whose petals are deeply notched. Leaves are rounder in shape than most cranesbills and have between 5 and 7 lobes.  Its favoured places are meadows, hedgerows, waste and cultivated ground.

It was first recorded in England in the 18th century and is thought to have been introduced into Britain from the mountainous regions of southern Europe, which might explain its other name of Mountain Cranesbill.

Flowers May to September Seen on the verge of Smithy Lane, Mouldsworth close to the junction with Well Lane.

Red Clover

Red Clover

The commonest pink or pink purple clover, but never red. Likes to grow in grassland or disturbed places.

It fixes nitrogen in to the soil and is often grown to enrich farmland and animal feed.

Flowers May to November. This example is easily spotted growing on the sandy bank by the footpath, 100metres beyond the village sign on the way to Mouldsworth.

Purple

Common Comfrey

Common Comfrey

Our commonest comfrey of wetter habitats. Perennial to 1.5m. The flowers can be yellowish cream or dull purple. It likes moist places especially by slow water, and in marshes.

The plant is renowned for healing broken bones hence its alternative names of Knitbone, Bruisewort or Boneset. Research shows it contains two substances, allantoin and choline which promote healthy red blood corpuscles especially valuable after blood loss. However it also contains other carcinogenic alkaloids.

It also makes an excellent compost and liquid fertilizer.

Flowers May to July. This grows in Gongar lane down by Ashton Brook.

Red

Scarlet Pimpernel

Scarlet Pimpernel

The colour alone of this little flower is almost a sufficient guide to its identification – a pale scarlet or very deep salmon red. The scarlet pimpernel is a prostate annual that grows to 40cm. Flowers are small (4 – 7mm) and leaves are pointed oval, unstalked and arranged in pairs or whorls.

It grows in cornfields and gardens but can also be found on waste ground and on dusty tracks. It is also known as the shepherd’s weather-glass because its blossoms only expand in fine sunny weather.

Flowers May to October. This plant was found growing on the edge of the car park of Poplar Grove adjacent to the old Mouldsworth Motor Museum.

White

Bramble

Bramble

Bramble, or Blackberry as more commonly known is one of the most familiar and variable wildflowers. A very tough prickly rambling to clambering, half-evergreen perennial to 4m. The flowers can be white or pink followed by dark purple fruit later in the year. It is broken down into various (up to 400) sub species which requires an expert to determine. It will grow virtually anywhere and once established is difficult to remove. In our area, it frequents hedgerows and woodland areas

The fruit is edible and collected by many including humans, birds and badgers. They are usually eaten raw, made into desserts or even an excellent wine.

It flowers May to November. This example is easily spotted growing near the footpath gate down past the Ashton Hayes Scout Hut.

Cleavers

Cleavers

A straggling annual, clambering over other vegetation in the hedgerows. Also known as Goosegrass. The tiny white flower is inconspicuous in small stalled clusters. It clings to animals and human clothing. It is a serious weed of hedges and disturbed ground.

As an herb, its roots yield a red dye and the seeds are said to make a palatable substitute for coffee. It has been used to treat skin problems and as a spring tonic.

It flowers May to September. It is found pervasively throughout the Ashton and Mouldsworth area.

Hedge Bindweed

Hedge Bindweed

A pretty plant but one you do not want in your garden, except maybe in a hedgerow or wild area. It spreads by seeds and once established is hard to remove, as any fragment of root left will regrow rapidly. Each flower only has a short life but they are produced in profusion over a long period.

Lesser Stitchwort

Lesser Stitchwort

The delightful Lesser Stitchwort is a smaller version of the Stitchwort that fills our hedgerows in the spring. The white petals are deeply cut on short smooth stems. It grows in grassy banks. It is also known by the common names common starwort, grass-leaved stitchwort and grass-like starwort.

Flowers May to August. This example this was seen in Grange Road.

Mayweed

The Mayweeds are a group of white daisy-like flowers that grow on bare and disturbed ground including edges of pavements, gutters and field edges. They are very common all around Mouldsworth and Ashton and flower from May to November. 

Knowing you’re looking at a Mayweed is quite easy but knowing which one you’re looking at requires a little investigation! 

Identification The white flowers are held in a cup-like structure (and called bracts) at the top of the stem. Look at the flower from underneath, and if there is a brown edge to the bracts you’re looking at a Scentless Mayweed otherwise it’s a Scented Mayweed. Easy!!

Scented Mayweed

This Mayweed is short and hairless, and is usually aromatic growing up to 60cm high. The flowers are generally smaller than the Scentless Mayweed but otherwise are very similar.

It can be seen in Shay Lane.

Scentless Mayweed

Scentless Mayweed

The commonest Mayweed this plant is short and hairless, and not aromatic annual/biennial growing up to 60cm high. The leaves are pinnate with thread-like leaflets. It prefers bare and disturbed ground, including edges of pavements and gutters. This example was photographed in the field entrance on the left heading North along Church Road.

White Ramping Fumitory

White Ramping Fumitory

This is a very delicate plant with tiny leaves and tubular flowers, the latter being of a creamy white appearance, often tinged pink or pale pink and having blackish-pink tips. The plants grow as weeds in cultivated and waste places. They are capable of creeping up walls and hedge banks (hence the name “ramping”) and have weak, straggly stems up to 1 m long.

This species is much less widespread than the Common Fumitory and can be found mainly near the coast and some inland areas.

Whilst not edible, extracts from this species have been tested as a botanical drug for its gastro-intestinal and anti-inflammatory properties. It is reported that if the stems are broken they seep a white latex which is dangerous to eyes and capable of causing glaucoma.

Flowers May to September. The example shown was seen growing as a weed in a cultivated bed in a garden in Smithy Lane, Mouldsworth.

Yellow

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Birdsfoot Trefoil

A common attractive low peaflower to 5cms, forming spreading carpets. Most flowers are yellow but can be orange with red buds. Hence, its folk name of eggs and bacon.

Flowers May to September. This example is easily spotted growing on the sandy bank by the footpath, 100metres beyond the village sign on the way to Mouldsworth.

Catsear

Catsear

A common short/medium perennial. Its flowers are carried on elongated stems above a basal rosette of leaves. It likes short turf or sparsely grassy places, including edges of pavements

It flowers May to October. This example was spotted growing on the sandy bank past the village sign heading towards Mouldsworth. It can also be found growing in Pentre Lane.

Herb Bennet

Herb Bennet

This is one of the commonest hedge-bank flowers. It is a medium perennial and grows to 70 cm. The flowers are bright yellow, star-shaped and typically 8-15mm in diameter. Their storks are green. Leaves are strawberry-like, the lower ones being pinnate and the stem leaves being 3-lobed. The flowers are followed by fruits held in spherical clusters and are burred with red hooks (see photo). Bennet means blessed (benedictus).

Herbalists once used Herb Bennet to treat poison, dog bites and liver disease but now use it for the treatment of gout, diarrhoea, heart disease and ulcers.

Flowers May-November. The specimen shown was seen growing in Well Lane, Mouldsworth.

Least Yellow Sorrel

Least Yellow Sorrel

This is a variety of Spreading Yellow Sorrel that is smaller in both leaf and flower. It is a low, sometimes mat-forming plant, with creeping thread-like stems, leaflets small (2 to 6 mm) and always green. The yellow flowers are tiny and solitary. 

Flowers May to September. The flower shown was growing in gravel in a drive in Smithy Lane, Mouldsworth. It was a possible garden escapee.

Leopardsbane

Leopardsbane

Yellow flowered perennial garden escape growing to 1m. It has distinctive heart-shaped leaves. 

Leopardsbane flowers from May to July. This example was found in Grange Road growing some distance from any garden.

Meadow Vetchling

Meadow Vetchling

The Meadow Vetchling is the most common yellow pea flower that grows in grassland and scrambles through our hedgerows. It can be distinguished beyond its colour by the tendrils and the keeled nature of its stem a characteristic it shares with other members of the pea family. 

It flowers from May to August. This example was seen in Shay Lane. The flowers are followed by shiny black seed (pea) pods.

Silverweed

Silverweed

This plant is one of the Cinquefoil family and the only common yellow flowered plant with silvery pinnate leaves. It is a low prostrate perennial with long runners that often create a carpet covering of the ground. It grows in damp bare and sparsely grassy places, waysides and is common on sand dunes.

It is reputed to have astringent, anti-inflammatory and sedative properties. All parts of the plant contain tannin.

It flowers May to August. This example grows on Grange Road in the hollow beyond the fishery.

Tormentil

Tormentil

Tormentil is a common, low-growing and creeping perennial of acid grassland, heathland and moorland, but can also be found on roadside verges. It has yellow flowers with four petals, and glossy, deeply toothed leaves with three lobes and silvery undersides, these provide nectar for solitary bees.

It was traditionally used to treat colic, gum disorders, wounds and inflammation. It was also used as a toothpaste and even to make a type of schnapps.

Flowers appear May to September. Found on grassy bank at Spy Hill.